Best Advice About Stone Crab Claws!
Known for their extraordinary flavor, stone crab claws are one of many treasures that can be found during Florida’s winter months. With the full crabbing season running from October 15 through May 15, this is the only time of the year to experience fresh, delicious stone crabs. These delectable crabs can be found in the warm waters of Central Florida heading south to the Florida Keys. Although these crabs are typically small in size, they are certainly big in flavor! With their sweet, delicate meat, the stone crab makes an exceptional main dish or appetizer.
Only a fourteen-minute drive from either of the Marco Island Beach Getaway Condominiums, Kirk Fish Company in Goodland, Florida comes highly recommended for their variety of fresh, local seafood. I enjoyed the privilege of speaking with Kelly Kirk, who was kind enough to answer some questions for me.
Ever wonder why local stone crabs are not available throughout the year?
Because the female crab lays her eggs during the summer months, this season is key to maintaining a solid reproductive system.
Why exactly are they so expensive?
Each fisherman is required to pay state fees for a specific permit and each trap has a corresponding tag that requires additional state fees, therefore the cost to local fishermen is extremely expensive when catching the crabs. Then there are the additional costs of fuel, bait and maintenance. Most fishermen work 12-hour days that typically begin before sunset.
Chatting with Kelly helped me understand why this is such a unique experience. The stone crabs are native to Florida’s Gulf of Mexico region. Thank you so much, Kelly, for this helpful information!
When crabbing, both claws are allowed to be harvested as long as they are each the legal size of two and three-quarter inches long or longer. The most common method of crabbing for both recreational and commercial fisheries is by using baited traps which remain in the water anywhere from 10 to 14 days. Pig’s feet are often used as bait as they work well in warmer waters.
It is fascinating to note that only the claws are harvested since healthy crabs can regenerate their claws within 30-90 days. The claws are removed with great care to ensure the crab retains minimal blood loss and a higher chance for survival. When returned to the sea, this perpetuates the crab’s population ensuring they will continue to flourish in their natural habitat.
Stone claws are typically steamed in water with a pinch of salt. Often served with a butter, mustard or a mayonnaise-based dipping sauce. This mouth-watering dish is best served cold — delicious and qualifies as a special occasion! When serving guests, two and a half pounds of prepared crab claws will typically equal one pound of meat.
Family owned and operated, Kirk Fish Company opened its doors in 1953 and continues to offer the freshest stone crab claws. They are HACCP certified and continue to maintain the highest standards in the seafood business. Often found in the market, Kelly Kirk will kindly share additional information, favorite family recipes and any helpful tips you may need. The crabs are steamed directly from the boat, then placed in their showcase. Kelly will gladly crack the claws for you or teach you how to do this yourself. We hope you will take advantage of this wonderful time of year by visiting Kirk Fish Company.
Video Credit: WGCU Public Media